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Meet 4-sided, case-coding requests from retailers: imprinting bar codes and other information on all four sides of a case increases read rates but requires the right equipment.

As more retailers, consumer packaged goods handlers and distributors turn to automation in their facilities to handle a proliferation of mixed-case shipments to retail stores, manufacturers are increasingly being asked to ensure that bar codes, product, lot and date codes appear on all four sides of each case.

"Having the information imprinted on all four sides of a corrugated secondary case or a retail-ready box increases the efficiency of the handling, as the cases don't have to be oriented in a specific way for the data to be read," explains Michael Sawyer, divisional director of product management and marketing at Diagraph Marking and Coding.

"Whether there's a single bar code reader located on one side of the conveyor or a multi-sided scan tunnel, imprinting on all four sides increases the read rate," Sawyer says, noting that traditionally the coding has been marked on either two adjacent or two opposite sides.

To accommodate that request, Diagraph offers the IJ4000 large character inkjet printing system. It supports up to four print heads supplied with ink from a single delivery source and imprints GS1-compliant codes and other information.

"A typical in-line print configuration marks the information on the opposite sides of the case in-line simultaneously, and integrates one of two different case-turning methods for imprinting the same information on both sets of sides," Sawyer continues.

Depending on a facility's conveyor setup and available floorspace, Diagraph can configure a choice of turnkey case turners: either a bump-turn mechanism that spins the case 90 degrees for the second imprint then returns it to its original orientation, or a perpendicular conveyor belt that pulls the case to the side for a second set of printheads to imprint on the opposite sides.


Regardless of the application methodology, the printheads used to mark directly on all four sides of each case exceed imprint rates of 250 feet per minute, which is generally faster than most production lines move, he says.

"There are also cost and waste elimination advantages to using large character inkjet printing to mark all four sides of a case over print-and-apply label systems, such as less frequent machine interaction to refill labels and remove the spent label stock," adds Sawyer.

By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large

Sara Pearson Specter is an editor at large with Modern and can be reached at

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Author:Specter, Sara Pearson
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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